Why I don’t like New Years Resolutions

By Allison Brennan

I never make New Years Resolutions or goals or promises.

The primary reason is unattainability–most goals or set too low or too high. If you set a goal too low and achieve it, could you have done more or better if you’d set it higher? Or not set one at all? Essentially, you have an excuse to be lazy because subconsciously you know you’ll meet your resolution and won’t push yourself.

If you set a goal too high, you’ll feel like a failure if you don’t achieve it. 

Some goals are simply not attainable, like, “I will sell a book/find an agent this year.” Selling a book is almost completely out of the author’s hands. You can write the book, vow to send out 100 queries to agents, but ultimately you have no control over whether someone offers you a contract or not.

I have enough stress in my life that I don’t need to heap on more worry in the form of a list of goals or a New Years Resolution. I know me, and I’ll glance at that list and either 1) know I’ll be able to do it, but procrastinate; or 2) know the goals are virtually impossible and stress over them.

My good friend Roxanne St. Claire loves setting goals. She calls herself a “goal junkie” and if you, too, love goals, read Rocki’s article from last year at Murder She Writes. And she offers great advice on how and why to set goals. For example, her first point:

A goal is not a dream. It is attainable solely by your own hands and it is in your control. Getting an editor to buy your manuscript or readers to buy your book aren’t goals, no matter how much they feel like they are. Submitting your manuscript to a specific number of editors or finishing back to back books in your fantastic series are goals.

But I still can’t do it. I even have problems writing a to-do list for a single day. People tell me that when they cross things off their to-do list that they feel productive or happy. Not me. If I had on a list, “Write ten pages today” and I wrote ten pages and crossed it off, I’d think, “Would I have written more if I’d listed more on my to-do list?” I can’t even plot out a scene let alone a whole book–and maybe lists make me think I’m plotting out my life. It gives me the willies just to think about it.

Some people thrive on lists and goals. More power to them. I’m not one. They drive me batty.

What about you? Like or hate lists? Like or hate to make New Years Resolutions? 



Saw HOLMES last weekend. FABULOUS movie. I loved it. Well worth the $10 (or, for me, $30.75 because of my two teenagers, plus $19.50 for popcorn and drinks . . . )


Fandango sent me a list of their Top 10 2010 most anticipated movies:

1. Ironman II. 

Saw the trailer. It looks a little darker than the first (which was pretty dark) but I’ll probably see it. My son wants to because he loved the first one. He’ll be 9 when it comes out. I really like Robert Downey, Jr. HOLMES solidified him as one of my favorites.

2. Alice in Wonderland

I keep going back and forth on this one. I love Johnny Depp. Hated the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Like Burton, but don’t know if I can put aside watching the original Alice and adapt to the non-cartoon version.

3. Tron: Legacy

When the original Tron came out, I loved it. But that was 1982 and I was 13. I’m sure with the computer graphics of today and the special effects, it will be fantastic on screen, but sometimes movies like this forsake the story for the effects. It’s on my list to see.

4. A-Team

Um, unless someone I know and trust gives it a major must-see thumbs up, nope.

5. Twilight: Eclipse

No. But my daughter will probably see it twice.

6. Clash of the Titans

Saw the preview at HOLMES. Will most likely see.

7. Robin Hood

Russell Crowe seems well cast and I loved him in Gladiator. Will probably see.

8. Toy Story 3

Andy goes to college! He leaves Buzz, Woody and the rest of the gang in a day care center. Tops my list of must-see movies. I can hardly wait! I might even bring the kids . . . 

9. Inception

A-list actors but . . . not sure about this one. Again, will wait for review from friends.

10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I

I haven’t seen the others, but my two old kids have. Doubt I’ll go.


What about you? Looking forward to any of these? 

BIG NEWS: Launched new website over the weekend. Love it. Still tweaking and adding content.

Ballantine created a widget for my new book in two sizes. I’ve never had one before. It’s kinda cool

15 thoughts on “Why I don’t like New Years Resolutions

  1. Eika

    About resolutions…

    Well, my resolutions aren’t normal ones. I resolve to do things I’d otherwise not get off my duff and do. For instance, I know I’m at the stage where I should be writing queries, but I’m scared (and my first one was so horrible I can’t get it out of my head). So, my resolution is to get a draft of a query that my writing group (or Evil Editor) thinks is decent, and send it to at least three agents.

    Things I might do anyway? Maybe. Things I probably will do eventually? Yes. Things I could surpass? I hope. But it’s a prod to get me to work on it in the first place.

    Normal lists, on the other hand, I only use to keep track of things. It’s one thing to say your college professors have assigned a mountain of homework and another to know which of the eight essays is due on which day and cross off the ones you’ve finished.

  2. Louise Ure

    Hate resolutions.Love lists. As long as those lists include "take a nap" and "get a massage."

    The new website is gorgeous, Allison, but those ghostly effects take an awful long time to load. In today’s Instant Gratification culture, I hope folks stay with it to get to each page they want to look up.

  3. Allison Brennan

    Louise, I don’t have a hugely fast connection–it’s DSL with the phone company–and they didn’t take too long to load, maybe 10 seconds. but I’ll go to Starbucks and check it out on the wireless connection there and see if it’s a longer time.

    Eika, get those queries out!

    Stephen, all my kids–from age 5 to 16–is looking forward to Toy Story 3. 🙂 I’ll admit, I got all teary-eyed at the preview.

  4. Barbie

    I don’t like them either… I’m hard enough on myself as it is, if I started setting goals I’d never actually live anymore. I have a general idea of what I have to do, and a estimative of the amount of time I have. I’ll work with that and give myself time and space to be spontaneous and do something crazy along the way 🙂 I always end up doing what I truly have to do, I trust myself enough to know I’ll take care of my responsibilities.
    Though, I was telling myself I need to write a book this year. It`s not a goal, but something I plan to do. Now, let’s see if I can make it happen.
    About the movies, I CAN’T wait for Eclipse even though I’m NOT a Twilight freak. But New Moon was a great adaptation and Eclipse is my favorite book, so, I’m excited.
    I wanna see Alice, too. I still haven’t seen SHERLOCK, it doesn’t come out here until January 8th, but I’m SO excited about it. I think I’m gonna see the first day!
    Also, I can’t wait for Final Destrination 4. I know, I love that stuff.

  5. Catherine Shipton

    I can create incredible long range lists. I can create critical paths with sub-lists to take care of the minute details. I can even insert when, where, who and what resources are needed to make it happen. Over time I’ve found that my epic lists turn out to be fictional.

    Too much of my drive to act gets subverted into long range lists . I can immerse myself so much in the planning that the actual doing sort of falls over…as I feel like I’ve already done it.

    Short term lists however, the stuff I write on the back of an envelope, that stuff works for me.I’ve achieved lots from the back of a napkin or envelope.

    As for movies, when I finish my last business degree essay I can go see Sherlock Holmes. I do want to see this film. Good to see you giving it the thumbs up.

    Allison, while avoiding writing my essay yesterday I did visit your new website. I found that it only takes my computer literally 10 seconds to load your pages. I have DSL too. The site has a sleek feel to me.Thanks for the new visual stimuli.

  6. toni mcgee causey

    If I ever tried to write a list, I wouldn’t remember where to put it, or recognize half of the stuff on there once I found it. Sometimes, things I thought were urgent turn out to not be so terribly important. Mostly, it annoys me to have a list, because I like flexibility. Even goals-as-a-list annoy me. That said, on my birthday, I tend to take stock of what I’ve accomplished, what else I have to do and how I intend to get to that point. I don’t write out the lists probably because I have internalized that process to the point where a list is redundant.

    Allison, I suspect you’re the same way–you naturally work from a plan–it’s just so internalized, your own methodology for how you approach tasks, that a list is redundant. And too inflexible. Having had a kid with ADD and a partner with it, though, I can vouch for the life-saving aspects of to-do lists for them.

    As for the movies, LOVED Sherlock as well. Looking forward to Ironman II, and am curious about Alice. (Burton is a hit/miss kind of filmmaker for me.) I’d go see Clash of the Titans (same reason) and Robin Hood (ditto), but probably would wait for the others on DVD.

  7. Catherine Shipton

    The most useful thing I learnt last year was to ask myself before doing something… will this be helpful? Cuts through a lot of stuff…also I adapt faster too.

    I’ve reframed goals into ‘stuff I want to get done’. I’ve accomplished a lot more this year, without much stress, doing this.

    I find the birthday taking stock if I’m on course or not more useful than engaging in some multilayered plan. Maybe the multilayered plan feels like fiction because it’s just plotting in disguise?

  8. PK the Bookeemonster

    Reading goal: read the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett and maybe some other big honkin’ books I have in my TBR. Other goal: lose weight. yeah, yeah, and oldy but a goody. Four months of not being mobile this summer was not good.

    I adored Tron the first time around so this one makes me nervous. Alice in Wonderland looks really freaky but may be best in all its surrealist glory on the big screen. Robin Hood also has Matthew McFadyen — good actor. Ironman II — YES! A remake of Clash of the Titans — why? The first was so bad. Harry Potter – yes; anything Twilight – no.

  9. Allison Brennan

    PK, I was thinking the same thing as you about Clash of the Titans–but I love the mythology. I was hoping that the second time around would be much better. re: losing weight . . . always on the agenda. Sigh. Why does it get harder as you get older? Oh and Catherine, I like the "stuff to get done" idea. As long as I don’t write it down I should be okay . . . 🙂

  10. JT Ellison

    I hate New Year’s resolutions and do goal setting instead. Much nicer to the wounded artist psyche (and hips, for that matter…)

    But I do love me some list making.

    I can’t wait for just about every movie you listed. I actually spent waaaay too long today checking out the trailers. Nice stuff!

  11. Eika

    Alison- I have to write them first! So far, this one… honestly, I’ll print it off and burn it, it will be cathartic. Oh well. It’s improvement on my first, which led people who hadn’t read my YA story to believe it may have been erotica. I’m… not sure I want to know how I did that, but there’s nowhere to go but up.

  12. Sylvia

    Resolutions – I haven’t written any down yet (see my comment here as to why.. ugh)

    I’m on a zippy-fast connection and the site does load fairly slow. It initially comes up fast but the clock-speed on the flash elements being loaded needs to be sped up.


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